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PNNL Researchers Develop All-Liquid Iron Flow Batteries for Utility-Scale Energy Storage

Researchers at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) have developed a new large-scale energy storage battery design featuring a commonplace chemical used in water treatment facilities. The new recipe provides a pathway to creating safe, economical, and water-based iron-based flow batteries made with naturally sourced materials. 

While iron-based flow batteries have been around for decades, this iteration has the ability to store energy in a unique chemical formula comprised of charged iron and a neutral-pH phosphate-based liquid electrolyte, otherwise known as an energy carrier.  

The chemical, called nitrogenous triphosphonate, nitrilotri-methylphosphonic acid, or NTMPA, is available in industrial size quantities, since it is typically used to inhibit corrosion in water treatment plants. 

According to the researchers, their lab-scale, iron-based battery displayed exceptional cycling stability over 1,000 consecutive charging cycles while maintaining 98.7% of its maximum capacity; previous studies of similar batteries reported degradation over fewer charging cycles. 

“We were looking for an electrolyte that could bind and store charged iron in a liquid complex at room temperature and mild operating conditions with neutral pH,” said senior author Guosheng Li, a senior scientist at PNNL. “We are motivated to develop battery materials that are Earth-abundant and can be sourced domestically.” 

Researchers at PNNL intend to scale this new battery technology at the Grid Storage Launchpad (GSL), a new facility opening at PNNL in 2024. The facility will help accelerate the development of additional flow battery technologies.

You can read the rest of this story here. 

Learn more: Are Iron Flow, Sodium-Ion, and Solid State Batteries the Future of Energy Storage? 

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